Tobyhanna family fights for the Warfighter--again and again
September 26, 2011
Since 2007, three members of the same family have deployed multiple times to support the Warfighter in Southwest Asia, SWA. Together the father, mother and son team have served a combined 36 months at several locations in Iraq.
Steve, Jacqui and Matthew McGlamery are like hundreds of Tobyhanna Army Depot employees who willingly sacrifice the comforts of home for the austere environment of war to provide skills and expertise on a variety of military systems.
Depot personnel deploy around the world in support of Communications Security, Counter Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare, CREW, Base Expeditionary Targeting and Surveillance Sensors-Combined, Forward Repair Activities, Firefinder and Lightweight Counter Mortar radars, and Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
Each of the McGlamerys performs duties to support the CREW mission. Jacqui works as a logistician, while Steve and Matthew work on a family of vehicle-mounted jamming systems as an electronics technician and field service representative, respectively. Jacqui and Steve are assigned to the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance,
ISR, Directorate and Matthew works for the Field Logistics Support Directorate, FLS.
Matthew was on active duty in the Navy when Jacqui and Steve decided to toss their hat into the deployment ring for the first time, hoping to be assigned to the same location together. They were in Iraq for 11 months.
"We were very lucky to be assigned to the same place," said Jacqui, explaining that they were told early on that there would be no guarantees. "While there we also spent three weeks together at a remote Marine base helping organize their property books and working on CREW equipment." Before stepping foot in Iraq, Steve was held over in Kuwait while Jacqui continued down range. In Kuwait, he and a cadre of technicians installed more than 150 jamming systems on as many vehicles within 48 hours.
"We strung the cabling, put in antennas, installed the systems and tested them," he said, explaining that they worked two 12- hour shifts to complete the job. "What we accomplished there is incredible."
Jacqui had hoped to work on CREW equipment while deployed, but her talents as a management analyst were soon put to good use. She explained that people who were proficient with computers, spreadsheets and reports were in high demand.
"A unit would come in and we would either issue or turn in CREW equipment," Jacqui said. "We did the paperwork and updated the system that posted data on property books. No one could leave the theater until their property books were cleared and they couldn't get a piece of equipment unless it was authorized." The team was responsible for an inventory valued at nearly $300 million.
Jacqui filled the role of logistician again when she returned to Iraq in 2010, this time as a team chief. She was there for six months.
The husband and wife team remembers the 100-plus degree temperatures, 12-hour days, and grueling operation tempo, but reminisces about the camaraderie among the workers and military members.
"We had a lot of face time with the Soldiers," said Steve. "I repaired, programmed and installed jamming systems in a variety of military vehicles. The Soldiers would come in from the field, drop the vehicle off and we'd fix it up and send them on their way."
A Soldier once told Steve how "he knew the jamming system had saved his life." They had been on patrol, watching someone who was behaving suspiciously when an improvised explosive device, IED, went off behind their convoy, Steve said, recalling how those words sent chills up his spine.
Matthew said he couldn't count the number of times Soldiers came up to tell him how the CREW systems saved their lives. After separating from the Navy, Matthew joined Team Tobyhanna by accepting two separate assignments to Iraq to work on CREW systems. He recently returned from his second trip to Southwest Asia bringing his total time in harm's way to 19 months.
"I truly enjoy my job," said Matthew. "I honestly can't imagine a job where you support the warfighter more. Soldiers know that they can count on our support 24 hours a day, 365 days a
year." Matthew noted that he often responded in the middle of the night to troubleshoot and repair a system so the Soldiers could continue with their mission.
"I can't say enough good things about them [the Soldiers]," Matthew said. "Their survival is what drives me to do my job to the best of my ability." Long-term or multiple deployments are nothing new to Tobyhanna Army Depot employees.
"Many COMSEC volunteers spend more than 365 days in country, returning only for the authorized rest and recuperation period," said Faye Pearson, logistics management specialist. She confirmed that at least 10 people have deployed up to three times and four individuals have deployed to several locations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, two COMSEC technicians chose to stay in country for two years, while four others stayed for more than three years. And, one individual spent nearly five years in Iraq, she added.
"I know of one woman who has served in SWA for about six years supporting Forward Repair Activities," said Richard Sokoloski, project officer, FLS Directorate. "Before that she was deployed to the Balkans."
Once you realize the importance of what you're doing, the job is easy, according to Steve.
"When you deploy, you're there for the Soldier," he said, adding that it seems deployments tend to bring out the best in Tobyhanna Army Depot employees. "You'd be surprised at the
number of people who return from deployment only to look for their first opportunity to go back."
Steve and Jacqui McGlamery would like to deploy again, maybe to Afghanistan. Matthew plans to start college in the fall.